Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ups and downs

I just published February's post today. Better late than never? I backdated it (nice feature) so in the story of my life that this blog represents, it will be in order.

The last few weeks and days have been mildly eventful. My birthday was meeting friends at a bar. It was a small group but I had a really good time. I went dancing after and drank a bit too much. Seemed about right.

My new bookshelves arrived and I had managed to sort all the books in time. I moved things around in the bedroom too and opened up the space a little. The books that are going are still boxed and waiting, but I don't feel bad about them. I have quite a lot of other paper I want to tackle...eventually, but the main living areas are super cozy right now. All my additions--including a new huge TV--seem to be working out. I had a friend over for dinner and it was really kind of perfect. Maybe I will have people over more often? Anything is possible.

I met a guy a week ago who seemed fantastic and I went into a full-on swoon over him. On our second date, last night, it's like I was with a different person. But I was the different person. I'm not entirely sure what happened. I managed to crush myself with a ton of false hope. But, I'll recover. I always do.

Right now, this minute, I'm sitting the brand spanking new Whole Foods that is less than a block from my house (if you leave by the back door). It's astonishing. The have some wonderful prepared food--I just ate a bowl of ramen--which I liked!--and drank a glass of wine at the little cafe. This is my view:


Grateful for: new people and new places. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

February

Another month, another post! I’m rolling along with not too much drama. I am starting to amp up my activism. I’ve been to two anti-immigration ban protests (last Sunday and yesterday). I’m going to an organizing meeting today and I’ve signed up for two more. Three different social justice groups with slightly different focuses. My plan is to pick one and stick with it. My other plan is to sort out my donation priorities and start writing checks/start monthly payments in the next few days. It’s been a long time since I did much serious activist work and I’m dreading all the meetings. Give me something to DO and I’ll do it. Sitting around talking for hours isn’t something I have a lot of patience for. I consider these first three meetings a test. All three groups are well-established so it shouldn’t be too much yakking about purpose or cause…but we’ll see. Maybe I will just stick to marching around and donating. We all do what we can.

On the personal front, my friendship with (friend) Dan still seems solid. We’re back to normal amounts of texting. Yesterday, we met up at the demonstration and had lunch after. It wasn’t awkward at all.

And, this fellow I was seeing last year, simultaneously with Marty, has reappeared. I don’t know if I mentioned him. Things ended poorly. I was very annoyed with him and he wasn’t delighted with me either. Yet, it’s not like things were terrible or anything, and in a lot of ways we were getting closer. In retrospect, a lot of what was wrong had to do with Marty, who even though he said he was fine with me seeing other people, really wasn’t. Like, not at all. Like, Marty was crazy jealous. Now that things are really, really over with Marty, I can try again with Ken (sure why not Ken?) and see how it goes. We got together this week and it went pretty well. I was a lot more relaxed with him and he was super chatty. I was surprised because he didn’t talk much at all the other times we were together. Again, he’s probably not got boyfriend potential, but I do like him, we have fun, and he really won’t be jealous if I see someone else. Not that I have any plans to do that…but if I meet someone who might be a more likely boyfriend, then I can date him too. And if I don’t, well, hello Ken!

What else? I think have completed my furniture kick for now. I got an estimate for built-in bookcases and I wasn’t impressed with the plan. However, that made the price for some high-end ready-made shelves seem very reasonable. I ordered them and they’ll come next week. The hard part is going to be sorting out all my current book collection, including the many, many that are stored in my bedroom, and getting rid of a lot of them. Pain is coming. I keep thinking I should nibble at this task, but I don’t do that well. I need to devote a full day to it next weekend. Pain. Then soon, I need to do the same thing for my wardrobe! One step at a time.

Grateful for: moving forward.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Home

I’ve been working hard and I’m pretty satisfied with how the job is going. I need to find more opportunities for the company, part of the problem with the private sector, but the work itself I’m mostly enjoying. Or not enjoying because it’s a challenge—and that’s good too!

I got a bunch of new living room furniture in December and I love it. New couch, rug and coffee table. Sold the mid-century set I had and kept the old IKEA sofa. Good decision. Next step is some new bookcases for the dining area, where I currently keep most of my books. I got an estimate from a carpenter but I didn’t love his design—and it was something like a thousand dollars more than I was expecting. So that decision is back on hold, but I would like to do do something about it soon.

I booted someone from my knitting group who was a problem. She was driving people away because every conversation had to revolve around her. I felt bad—I feel bad—but I know it was the right decision for the group.

No real dating to speak of. My new friend (he's "Dan" from the July post), a guy I’ve been hanging out with for maybe a year, sort of made a pass at me on New Year’s Eve. We didn’t go out together, but he was out in my ‘hood and came over when I got home. I really like him and value him as a friend. He’s way younger than me (19 years!) and has a variety of mental health issues that make him seem like not a great boyfriend candidate. Maybe this is a mistake on my part? Maybe he was drunk and that “pass” (which was a cuddle on the couch) didn’t mean anything. I put an end to it and he apologized a lot (during and after). We haven’t spoken of it since or seen each other, though he’s still texting me all the time. We have a mostly a text-based friendship, though we see each other probably once a month. He texts me or FB messages many times a week and usually at least once a day. He typically initiates but I almost always respond in a timely fashion. I like having a friend but it’s kind of one-sided. When I come to him with problems, even mild ones, he listens but is mostly perplexed. So, I dunno. Most of the talks are about current events, movies, or some-such. Occasionally about his personal life and work issues. Anyway, that’s happening.

I hung out with Pele and her now 6-year-old daughter on Saturday. We had lunch then played with Legos a her house for a few hours. It’s been a long time since we had that kind of hang and I wish we did it more often. I’ll have to take more initiative instead of waiting to be asked. Sure, a lot of what they do is “family time” but I’m sure I could jump on that train once in a while.

I did way more traveling than I wanted to do in December and January. Dad really wanted me to come down to LA, where he was going to be. My eldest brother (B1) goes there every Christmas to be with his wife’s family (one of her siblings lives there). So, I went for four days. I drove dad and stepmom around and I walked the dog living where we were house sitting. I crashed this whole distant family’s Christmas—and it was fine. B1 was fine with me being there. His wife and her family are good people who I’ve met before and they were friendly and welcoming—in the sense of treating me like a regular family member who didn’t need any special treatment. Dad’s memory is terrible—he was finally officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He still knows who I am, so I’m grateful for that. He didn’t remember how old I was and alternated between asking me about my retirement plans and if I was going to lose my job (due to the new administration). According to my stepmother, I’m more patient than she is. I did ok. I didn’t get angry at him and only once said, “I’m only 47!” Still, I miss him. I am glad he’s still there in many ways that makes him recognizable but even before the diagnosis, I knew we were losing him. I accept it. I accept him as he is now. I miss who he was.

And then, last weekend, I went up to NY/NJ because one of my Israeli nieces was visiting. I did a lot of auntly duty—taking her shopping (she paid for her own stuff) and buying her coffee and lunch, and doing all the navigating. I didn’t enjoy myself, I don’t feel closer to her, but I did what I needed to do, which was help take care of her. She is in a fight with her parents and siblings and has cut everyone off. I’m not ok with this and think she is in the wrong, but I don’t want to shut her out. It’s terrible.

Any surprise that when I came home I was barely functional? I did manage to finally finish a project that has been my albatross for months—so this long weekend I’m not doing any work at all. When I get home (at coffee shop now) I will do some laundry, watch a movie, and finish knitting another  what I like to call a “protest hat.” I’ll be marching around the day after the inauguration.

I’m not sure what to do about the blog. I can’t let it go. I want to try and post once a month at least. I’ll try.

Grateful for: family.

PS Marty from the July post is now history. He was too difficult and he started to make me unhappy all the time. Another good decision.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Feeling better.

I know it's been for-ev-er. I've been itching to write but it's harder for me to find time. What else do I do instead? A lot of Facebook interactions, for one. A lot of work. Some bike riding and outdoor activities. And a lot of just watching TV and knitting. Boring. I wonder if I should try and blog on the train to work? Hrm. Anyway.

I was home, in Seattle, for about a week a week or so ago. My mom had major surgery for cancer. Luckily, she is cancer-free and doesn't need any follow-up radiation or chemo. Her recovery is going well but it's good I went out because she needed help. Not that it was easy to actually help her, but perhaps it's best not to dwell on all the ways it was difficult.

Instead, let's dwell on all the ways dating is difficult. I recently went out with a guy who I first met online about six years ago. We had a couple of dates and then I dismissed him. He was decent but pretentious and apt to explain a lot of stuff, including stuff I knew more about than he did. He got in touch with me again in January. We had two more dates, and then I gave up on him again. He was still moderately attractive and very annoying. And then, two weeks ago, he emailed me again. He'd heard me on a podcast where I had a guest appearance. We had another first date that went ok. Then a second date yesterday, that ended with a plea from me for him to stop explaining really obvious things to me. He was super frustrated with that, and while he said I wasn't wrong, he also said, "you're like a bulldog--you just won't let it go!" And he's right, I won't. I don't think I can get used to it or laugh at it, especially since we couldn't seem to progress from talking about work and career stuff to anything more intimate. I tried with him again because he's a decent human and interested in a real relationship, but we just aren't suited.

I have another story to tell, but I'm going to put it in another post! Stay tuned.

Grateful for: Mom's good health.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Pause

Sorry I haven't updated after that last entry. I recovered from my trip. I'm feeling ok. I've been to Seattle and California since and seen my mom and dad. Mom is fine, but mercurial as always. Dad is about the same, though possibly slipping ever so slightly. He and his wife are in their old folks building now and it's pretty depressing. It's a nice place and the food is good. They were able to reserve an apartment for me and the privacy was appreciated. Their apartment is very pleasant--two bedrooms, a full (unused) kitchen, and big living room/dining room space. The problem is that it's such a small world. They are right near a park and a lake. The park is ok, not wonderful. The lake is pretty but also pretty small. The building has activities of the old folks variety. I think I'm against this kind of living arrangement. The place is pleasant, the people are nice and friendly, but where are the young people? The middle-aged people? The children? It's also an incredibly white place. The only residents of color were Asian. Most of the staff was latino/a and a few were black. I didn't spot a single black or hispanic resident. My stepmother seems happy. My dad seems resigned. I think the move was a mistake for him but maybe it was good for her.

On the happy side, I am starting to enjoy my job. Several of the projects are interesting. I'm managing, informally, a couple of staff members and I really like that. I am getting along with my direct boss, and that's a good feeling. Work stuff is working out well. I'm also stepping up my social life--or trying to. I've signed up for swing dance lessons again--it's been a long time since I was dancing. Too long. I've also gotten into a pretty good morning exercise routine, started when I visited Seattle. To really make it work, I need to get up a little earlier, but at least I have a good (moral) reason for being late to the office.

Grateful for: liking my job.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hope

I wish I could say everything is fine but it's not. It's just that there's nothing to do about it. My father is entering his second childhood. At least he seems happy rather than angry. I can tell he is frustrated sometimes and confused. He can still function pretty well by himself but I wonder how much longer he'll be able to go for a walk and not get lost. Since there is literally nothing to be done--he has seen doctors and they do what they can--it's upsetting but I move right to acceptance. I'm sad for me and for him...but he's still with us and he's still him so I'm grateful for that. I mean, I can't have the same kinds of conversations we used to but we can have conversations. He still knows me. That's something.

My niece is most definitely in an emotionally abusive relationship. This is more upsetting because we should be able to do something...yet we can't. Her mother is angry, sad, and frustrated. I feel the same--but those words don't really my feelings adequately. Like with my dad, these are feelings I don't know that I've had very often. You want so bad to just make it stop. To pluck her and the kids out of there house and take them away to somewhere safe, but you can't. You can't if she won't allow it. You can't if she has stopped talking to her family. You can't if you live in another country and don't even fully understand her culture and way of life. Really you can't do anything but feel sad and exhausted and ready to cry if you think about it too long.

Yeah, this isn't a fun trip. These trips to Israel never are but this one is something special. It does emphasize to me that I need to start taking a more active role keeping up the family connections. I relied on Dad and his wife to do that. Dad can't anymore and his wife is overwhelmed. So, I have been getting everyone's phone numbers and email. I will start calling more often. I will offer my ear and my love. That is what I can do.

Grateful for: hope.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Israel

This trip is expectedly miserable. I'm exaggerating. It's a slog with some bright points and an extra layer of angst. My dad is in bad shape. He remembers things like how they dug the Panama Canal (did you know a major challenge was that they had to dig through the edge of a mountain?) but not the years or dates of any of his three children's birthdays. I don't know how to explain how I feel about it. I'm sad that he's not quite the same person anymore. I'm happy that he's still around and the flashes of memory he shares are interesting. Last night, he told a long and fairly accurate story about an early phase of his career. He was unclear on some details but other parts were things I didn't know much about. He also asked a few times where I was born...New York, Dad!  Patience is the watch word but it's not easy.

I'm frustrated with myself because I get grumpy with people. I'm so good for so long and then, bam, I've hit my limit and I get a little short. DON'T tell me I made a wrong turn! Yes, I know I made a mistake. I will correct it if you give me a chance. I will ask for help if I need it. But those people (stepmother) who are telling me what to do (aka providing helpful suggestions) can't stop either. They are fighting all their instincts to sit quietly by and let me do my thing. What I don't understand about Susan is how she seems to want to maximize the time AWAY from our Israeli family. They are exhausting and spending time at their house means a lot of waiting around--but isn't being with them the entire reason we're here? Shouldn't we be maximizing it?

Anyway. Anyway. Things are ok. Saw my niece who has stopped talking to everyone. I saw her kids, her husband. Everyone seems fine, healthy, happy, and, in the case of the 2-year-old, screaming. I was able to report back to my brother (B2). He was glad but it doesn't resolve the bigger picture, which has to do with my niece's father-in-law. I'm not comfortable getting into it all...but this man is bad news. I was at least reassured that inside the family circle the relationships and behavior seemed normal. Not that one visit can tell everything...or possibly anything. Also she called her sister--the one getting married--the next day. Doubt that had much to do with me, but it probably had something to do with seeing me and her grandparents as a visible reminder of what is going on with the rest of the family. So, she called, and maybe that will be a first step to reconnecting. Being isolated and cut off is painful for everyone. If she can reconnect that will be a start.

What else? A funny thing about this trip is that I am still in touch with my two friends who I text with regularly. One is Marty, who I've coached to being supportive as I unburden the story of Israel. The other is my friend, Dan, who I met a bit over a year ago via a Facebook group. He's 20 years younger than me but we've become quite good friends. He even drove me to the airport! Anyway, he probably texts me once a day--nothing deep usually. We've kept up a more irregular communication while I've been abroad. It makes my travels more enjoyable. I didn't have people to hang out with in Paris, but I had Dan and Marty and the FB group to chat with when I got home after a long day of touring. In Paris, I even met one of the FB group members for a drink! In Israel, it provides that lifeline back home. Helps keep me a bit grounded and maybe I'm less grumpy because of it? Have to work on the grumpiness.

Grateful for: friends, near and far.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Where in the world?

I'm on the road again. At the moment, I'm in Tel Aviv, visiting my good old friend Spesh. Before this, I was in Paris for a few days. I have pictures and eventually I'll get some posted.

Things are good here. It's too hot. I'm surviving Spesh's vegan diet--I don't eat meat around him but when we eat out I'm merely vegetarian. Israel is actually a good place to be vegan-- falafel, hummus, and most of the salads don't have eggs or dairy. He keeps telling me he "eats well." I have to take his word for that.

I am here for a wedding. My youngest and last remaining Israeli niece is getting married on Sunday. I'm sad and happy. The great-niece/nephew count is up to 15. Two more are in utero.

I head to Jersualem tomorrow morning. I will be shuffling around a bit. I am renting a car and will be the shuttle service for my dad and stepmother. Dad really can't drive anymore. I'm happy to help but dreading the driving a bit. Jerusalem traffic and street patterns are difficult. I have driven there quite a bit but it was really nice when I could trade off with Dad. It's no picnic getting old for any of us.

Another niece is having problems that she confided to a sister but is now denying. When my brother (B2) confronted her, she stopped speaking to him. I'm wading into this a bit but I'm not going to confront her. I called her directly and plan to visit her tomorrow afternoon. My idea is to listen and be her friend. Maybe I can build a bridge back to her parents? I wish this weren't happening...but I'm here and I'm going to try and do my bit.

Grateful for: fortitude.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Orange

My new folding bike arrived yesterday. I took it on a little spin. It's a great little bike though the handling takes a little getting used to. I've already modified it by swapping the saddle. That was a huge improvement. I'm having another one of my slow Saturdays but I made it to the market. Just finished my brunch and I think I'll go for another short ride. Nothing like a brand new bike for motivation!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Blast from the past

I’m a bit overdue for an update. I had a bit of a tough time at work this week. I was thrown all the way back to the worst days at the old job. I find it still a bit painful to talk about…but here goes: my old horrible supervisor is now a client for my new company. Not her individually or directly, but a contract out of her division is something my company is working on. With my switch back to the housing group earlier this year, I started working on the project. I was taking on a larger role, slowly, and enjoying the chance to get hands on with the kind of work I’d previously been involved with from the other side. Maybe a week or so ago, ex-supervisor found out I was working on the project. And she tried to have me removed. The government isn’t allowed to tell a contractor who can work on a project, other than the “key personnel” and my company hadn’t yet put me in that status—though they were planning to. I guess she felt blindsided. Her arguments were along the lines of “we have a good team, I don’t want [Jamy] to take hours away from Fred or Steve.” She didn’t directly ask for my removal, but it was quite clear to my current boss that’s what she wanted. I talked to him about it and gave him some background. Two other bosses were involved in the discussion before I found out what was going on. They have no intention of removing me from the project, which is good. What got me really upset is the idea that she would try and block me from future work. I could easily be bid as the project manager—and would she find someway to eliminate our proposals—but really be biased against them on my account? Would I become a poison pill?

I was really, really upset on Thursday when it all came out.

Thursday night, I had a first date. As you might imagine, it didn’t go great. He was reasonably patient as I vented all over him…but I could see he was distracted and…bored? Or maybe confused. I rarely get as distressed as I was that night and pretty much never with a stranger. I was sort of hoping that he’d be a good, sympathetic listener and maybe provide some comfort. I assumed that, even under those circumstances, we wouldn’t have a second date. We did eventually move on to other topics but I dominated the conversation. That’s not always death but sometimes it is. I don’t expect to hear from him again (haven’t yet) and I have no plans to contact him. At some point in the middle of the date, he asked me to give it a grade and I said B- or C+ and he agreed. But, hey, I’ve had worse dates! He wasn’t an asshole or anything.

I was also texting with some friends and that helped. I have a few people I can talk to who understand and they helped me work though my feelings.

On Friday, I talked to another boss, a VP, at my company about the situation. He seemed to blame me, “This is a small town, you can’t burn bridges.” Wow. As though I didn’t try everything I could to repair things (maybe I didn't? I sure remember trying). At the same time, he also said I shouldn’t worry about it too much, they would keep me on the project, and I’d have work in the future. Both this boss and my direct supervisor told me stories about similar situations where someone took a dislike to them and wanted them off projects. The VP emphasized that they had to keep the client happy. He also gave me a mini-lecture about how I had to stop interrupting in meetings and do a better job listening. I pushed back on that—it was particularly galling because it’s the critique the horrible ex-supervisor used to give me. And it’s really unfair since I listen hard to other people and wait until I think the time is right to jump in. I think it’s a gendered critique and I told the VP that. But I also said I was willing to take any suggestions about how to change my behavior—that I would do any specific thing he asked. And I gave an example where I’d taken his advice in the past and changed the way I ran a certain kind of meeting. I have known this guy a long time, so I think it’s ok to have a frank discussion with him. The irony is that he’s actually a terrible listener! Oh well. I will talk to him again next week and make sure he understands I was upset and make sure everything is cool.

I did tell my direct boss about this exchange and he is totally with me. He got a similar mini-lecture from the VP about being a better listener. Haha! So, at least the person most directly in charge of me gets it.

I am feeling ok today but I had a kind of crazy whiplash experience where for a day I was thrown back into the past and had a concentrated dose of trauma. I talked to a friend from the old job who is working on the project in question. He said he defended me to the ex-supervisor, which was heartening. He said she was just upset because I didn’t like her. I reminded him that I didn’t start out disliking her. I was open to working with her but over time, it became impossible to bear her management style. I wanted to like her. I wanted to keep my job. She won. Can’t that be enough?

I stayed home all day yesterday. I was totally knocked out. I knit and knit and knit. I watched movies, tv, and knit and knit. Today, I’m feeling pretty back to normal. I’m going to try and keep the past in the past.

Grateful for: my new boss.